Widow's Walk

by Robert B. Parker

A Spenser Novel

When fifty-one-year-old Nathan Smith, a once-confirmed bachelor, is found in his bed with a hole in his head made by a .38-caliber slug, it's hard not to imagine Nathan's young bride as the one with her finger on the trigger. Even her lawyer thinks she's guilty. But given that Mary Smith is entitled to the best defense she can afford-and thanks to Nathan's millions, she can afford plenty-Spenser hires on to investigate Mary's bona fides. Mary's alibi is a bit on the flimsy side: She claims she was watching television in the other room when the murder occurred. But the couple was seen fighting at a high-profile cocktail party earlier that evening, and the prosecution has a witness who says Mary once tried to hire him to kill Nathan. What's more, she's too pretty, too made-up, too blonde, and sleeps around -- just the kind of person a jury loves to hate.

Spenser's up against a wall; leads go nowhere, no one knows a thing. Then a young woman, recently fired from her position at Smith's bank, turns up dead. Mary's vacant past suddenly starts looking meaner and darker-and Spenser's suddenly got to watch his back.

With lean, crackling dialogue, crisp action, and razor-sharp characters, Widow's Walk is another triumph.


"Parker taps into truth about familial loyalties. The writing is as clean as fresh ice, and from the opening sentence...it's clear that readers are in the hands of a vet who knows what he's doing."
Publishers Weekly

"Spenser is back in his element out-punching and out-quipping adversaries in Beantown. An entertaining supporting cast...puts this one on the top shelf of recent Spenser mysteries. It's also one of the author's wittier outings, with Spenser's brainy, brawny charm undiminished in the face of so much ditziness...Bottom line: A merry Widow."

"Parker's energies remain as formidable as his hero's; like Spenser he knows how to listen and strategize."
The Boston Globe

"Robert B. Parker's Spenser novels have consistently served as the benchmark by which other modern-day private eye novels are measured."
Book Page

"Spenser is back, as quick with a quip and as free with his fists as ever."
The San Diego Union-Tribune

"...delivers the jaunty entertainment we've come to expect from Parker..."

Buy the book

paperback | Putnam | 2002 | ISBN: 9785559608730



"I think she's probably guilty," Rita Fiore said to me.

We were in her office, high up, with a view of the harbor.

"And you're her lawyer," I said. "

Tells you about her case," Rita said. She sat on the edge of her desk in front of me, her thick red hair gleaming. She had on a black suit with a very short skirt. Rita knew her legs were good.

"But you'll represent her anyway."

"Like everyone else," Rita said, "she's entitled to the best defense she can get."

"Or afford," I said.

Rita smiled. "Or afford."

"She got money?"

"Oodles," Rita said.

"Last time I worked for you," I said, "I almost got killed."

"I know," Rita said. "We could give you hazardous-duty pay."

"It's all hazardous duty," I said. "Tell me about your client."

"Mary Smith."

"Mary Smith?"

"Honest to God," Rita said. "It's her real name. She was married to the victim, Nathan Smith. Her maiden name was Toricelli."

"She have oodles of money before she married him?" I said.


"Ah ha!"

"Ah ha?"

"It's an investigational term," I said. "That where the oodles come from?"


"They the same age?"

"He married her when she was twenty-three and he was fifty-one."

"Prior marriages?"

"None. For either."

"How old is she now?"


Rita had her legs crossed. She bounced the top leg a little, looking at the point of her shoe. The shoe had a very high heel. It looked uncomfortable. But good.

"Anyone else in her life?"

Rita shook her head sadly. "God," she said. "You're a cynical bastard."


"Cops suspect her of an affair or two."


Rita smiled. "Youwant them in chronological order?" she said. "Or alphabetically?"

"You can give me a list," I said. "What's the prosecution's case?"

"He was discovered naked in his bed with a hole in his head made by a forty-caliber slug."

"They find the bullet?"

"Yes. After it went through his head it tore through the mattress and lodged in the baseboard. Angle of the shot suggests that it was fired by someone in bed beside him."

"She have an alibi?"

"No. She says she was downstairs in the library watching television."

"She hear the shot?"

"No. Says the TV was on loud and her door was closed so as not to wake him up."

"So she found him that way when she went up to bed."

"Yes. They didn't share a bedroom, but she usually stopped in to say good night."

"Did he normally sleep naked?" I said.

"I don't know."

"Okay," I said. "She's a good candidate. But they got to have more than that to prosecute."

"They had a huge fight earlier in the evening. He actually slapped her."


"Two dozen. It was a big cocktail party in Brookline."

"And I assume she's his heir," I said.


"And there's more," I said.

"Unfortunately, yes. Prosecution has a witness who says she tried to hire him to kill her husband."

"And he declined?"

"He says he did."

"He make a deal for his testimony?"

"Yes. They picked him up for something unrelated. He said if they could work something out, he could help them with this case."

"Which is a high profiler," I said.

"The Smiths first came to Boston on the Mayflower," Rita said.

"The Mayflower didn't come to Boston," I said.

"Well, they've been here a long time," Rita said.

"But the cops can't put her in the room when the gun went off," I said.


"No powder residue on her hands."

"No. But he did."

"Shot at close range," I said. "Put his hands up to try and stop the bullet?"

"That's the police theory."

"Everybody knows about powder residue anyway," I said. "She could have worn gloves."

"Police didn't find them."

"You can flush those latex jobs down the toilet like a condom."

"I've heard that can happen," Rita said.

"I'll bet you have," I said.

"I meant about the gloves," Rita said.


"There is probably more," Rita said. "But that's what I know they've got so far."

"You think they can convict her on that?" I said.

"Motive, and opportunity, prior solicitations to murder. Plus the jury won't like her."


"Because she's what my mother would have called cheap. She's too pretty, too made up, too blond, lot of attitude, drinks to excess, probably does dope, sleeps around."

"Sounds like a great date," I said.

"And her diction is bad," Rita said. "She sounds uneducated."

"Juries don't like that?"

"They are more inclined to think you're innocent if you sound like Barbara Walters," Rita said.

"You think Barbara would be a good date?"

"Oh, oink," Rita said.

"You think the prosecution knows stuff they haven't told you?" I said.

Rita had thick dark red hair which glinted in the sunlight that streamed through her big picture window.

"Maybe," she said.

"What about full disclosure?" I said.

"What about the Easter bunny?" Rita said. "You want to see what you can find out?"